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John Kirwan

BluesThe Blues’ Super Rugby pre-season training almost ended in disaster on Friday, when close to 30 players had to be fished out of the water by sea rescue.

This happened when a training session in the Hauraki Gulf went wrong, with two waka swamped by waves during a paddle from Takapuna Beach to Rangitoto Island.

The team had been planning to paddle nearly five kilometres across to Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf then run to the summit, but the training exercise was cut short.

The team tweeted about the embarrassing outcome of the pre-season trip – which, though unpleasant, did not cause any major problems.

Coach John Kirwan also issued a statement to the New Zealand media, confirming that all team members had escaped unharmed following the scare.

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BarbariansAlastair Kellock will lead the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

The former Scotland captain takes charge of a cosmopolitan squad, coached by Sir John Kirwan, for the Killik Cup match.

In the starting side are Australia wing Nick Cummins, who lines up against his former team-mates, with New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup match winner Colin Slade at flyhalf.

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Barbarians RugbyThe Barbarians completed their squad with the addition of 11 more players including the South African duo of Juan de Jongh and Sarel Pretorius.

The Barbarians are set to take on the Wallabies at Twickenham on 1 November under the guidance of Blues coach John Kirwan.

Of the 11 new players added on Tuesday, the majority (5 of them) are from New Zealand with a further 3 Argentineans and a Scot to go along with the 2 South Africans.

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Barbarians RugbyJohn Kirwan will give his international recruits the opportunity to stake their claim for Test places when the Barbarians take on Australia next month.

The former World Cup winner takes charge of the famous invitation side for the Killik Cup match at Twickenham on 1 November.

Already recruited are Wallabies wing Nick Cummins, former England prop Matt Stevens and a hard-edged group of South African forwards which include CJ Van der Linde, Heinrich Brussow, Coenie Oosthuizen, Thomas du Toit, Jacques Botes and Michael Rhodes.

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Sir Colin "Pinetree" Meads

Sir Colin “Pinetree” Meads

Eleven legends of New Zealand rugby have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in Auckland on Friday 21 August, staged the night before a Bledisloe Cup match in Eden Park.

This latest induction represents the incorporation into the IRB Hall of Fame of many of the International Rugby Hall of Fame, which was recently acquired by the IRB and presentations were made by Hall of Fame panel member Don Cameron and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. The new inductees are: Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Terry McLean, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie and George Nepia.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great Game.”

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Luke Braid

LEADING THE WAY: Luke Braid says he still has a lot to achieve in New Zealand rugby

Captain Luke Braid headlines a quartet of Blues players who have recommitted to the franchise for the next Super Rugby season.

Braid, fellow flanker Brendon O’Connor and wing Frank Halai have all signed one-year deals with the Blues while halfback Bryn Hall has re-signed until the end of 2016.

The 25-year-old Braid was a consistently high performer this season, despite carrying a shoulder injury for most of the year, and still has high ambitions in New Zealand. “I’m still incredibly motivated to win something with the Blues and continue to try and make the All Blacks,” Braid said.

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It's almost like the Blues' failure has been brushed aside because it's expected. Photo / APN

It’s almost like the Blues’ failure has been brushed aside because it’s expected. Photo / APN

The Blues are consistent – 10th last year and again this season.

That’s the upshot of winning 13 games and losing 19 in the two seasons John Kirwan has been in charge of a franchise which has flowered intermittently since their last 2003 title success.

It’s almost like the Blues’ failure has been brushed aside because it’s expected, that’s what they do, they are stuck in a cycle of under-achievement.

As most of the New Zealand focus turns to the work of the Crusaders, Highlanders and Chiefs in the playoffs, the Blues will go through their season debriefs and make plans for next year before delivering another version of onwards and upwards rhetoric.

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John KirwanBluesBlues coach Sir John Kirwan believes he has the solution to rugby’s scrum problems and wants changes to be made immediately.

The 63-cap former All Blacks wing wants changes to occur to the scrum law in the middle of the season, in order to solve the issues and thinks that the IRB and SANZAR should work together to ensure the decisions are made.

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Benji MarshallHe may have a long way to go, but former Rugby League star Benji Marshall has set his sights on eventually playing for the All Blacks.

The talented new Blues recruit is set to take his first steps on that journey when the Auckland franchise face the Hurricanes in a pre-season friendly this weekend, but he has made it clear that the ultimate goal is to play Test rugby for New Zealand.

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BluesBlues head coach Sir John Kirwan has named a 26-man squad that will travel to South Africa for matches against the Sharks and Cheetahs.

The Blues squad will leave for South Africa this Friday in the afternoon as they play the Sharks in Durban on June the 29th before heading to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs on July the 6th.

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Some of the greatest rugby players from around the world will line up at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 3 December 2011 for the ‘Heroes Rugby Challenge’. The match, which kicks off at 1630 and is supported by J.P. Morgan, aims to raise a substantial sum of money for Help for Heroes, the charity which provides practical support for wounded service men and women.

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Tonight, Friday 4 February 2011, sees the start of the Six Nations Tournament, featuring the strongest 6 European Nations.

First up is Wales vs England at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 21:45 SA Time.

Rugby-Talk will cover this match live tonight.

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The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) have said that they will not negotiate for player release with England’s Premier Rugby Limited but only with England’s Rugby Football Union. This applies to Welsh internationals playing for Premiership clubs in England.

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All Blacks lock Ali Williams has been familiarising himself with his new temporary home in England, the Nottingham Rugby Club.

According to the allblacks.com website, Williams, who is recovering from a second Achilles tendon rupture, is to play up to four games for the side as he attempts his recovery ahead of the Super 15 season in New Zealand.

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